Thought for the Month (July 2009)
Among my activities recently I have been showing pictures of Old Tunbridge Wells to local groups, and have read Charles Hilbert Strange's book called – "Mount Pleasant Congregational Church. 1830-1930."
And about 1830, we have these words –
"The town had only recently been lived in all the year round, for up to nearly the end of the 18th century all the hotels, lodging houses and shops, and many private houses, were closed during the winter months, except in the vicinity of the Parade (as The Pantiles was then called) on Mount Ephraim and beside the London Road.
There were very few houses. The population was about 5,000.
Sanitation was unknown. One third of the men and one half of the women coming to be married could not sign their names. Drunkenness, swearing and indecency were common: crime was abundant and the criminal laws savagely cruel. Children of six went to work. Popular sports were cock-fighting, bull-baiting and other brutal pastimes. The poverty of the poor was terrible. It is not to be supposed that the conditions here were very much above the average of the whole country."
Out of this darkness the Christians in the town established Churches, Day Schools, Sunday Schools etc. These "Do-Gooders" brought light into our local environment. Today we have St. John's School, St. Barnabas' School, St. James' School, St. Peter's School and St. Mark's (once St. Luke's). The foundation stone all over the town was laid by "people motivated by Jesus" and we can be thankful to the "Do-Gooders" of yesteryear for our town today.
So my message to all our present-day "Do-Gooders" is – keep up the good work, you follow a long line of Christian visionaries in our area.
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